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It’s about more than just the moustache

25 November 2019 at 8:24 am
Maggie Coggan
Rachel Carr heads up one of the most successful grassroots campaigns in the country, the Movember Foundation, which is fighting to end male suicide and raise the profile on men’s health issues. She’s this week’s Changemaker. 

Maggie Coggan | 25 November 2019 at 8:24 am


It’s about more than just the moustache
25 November 2019 at 8:24 am

Rachel Carr heads up one of the most successful grassroots campaigns in the country, the Movember Foundation, which is fighting to end male suicide and raise the profile on men’s health issues. She’s this week’s Changemaker. 

When it comes to leading a successful marketing and fundraising campaign, Carr knows her stuff. 

With a background in corporate marketing and advertising, she made the move to her first social sector role at Cancer Research UK, where she led their high profile campaign, Stand Up To Cancer, and oversaw one of its most successful years to date

Moving over to the Movember Foundation 18 months ago, Carr is now working to grow one of the most successful and unique grassroots campaigns in the country, which sees thousands of men grow moustaches throughout November to raise awareness and money for suicide prevention and men’s health research. 

With the organisation celebrating its 15th birthday last year, Carr’s aim is to now engage supporters all year round, as opposed to just during its annual month-long campaign. 

In this week’s Changemaker, Carr discusses what drew her to the foundation, how to take time out, and how her job has changed the way she looks at the world.  

How did you first get involved in the sector?

I was working in the commercial sector for the first half of my career, predominantly in the world of consumer marketing goods. I learned tons and it was a great experience but I never felt quite fulfilled. I always knew in my heart of hearts I’d end up in the charity sector, I just wasn’t sure at what point. 

An opportunity presented itself at a large charity in the UK called Cancer Research UK, and I took on a job as its head of marketing. I led a campaign of theirs called Stand Up to Cancer, which was a telethon licensed from the US. We ran it in partnership with a big TV network in the UK and it was a really exciting opportunity because we were given the chance to build an entirely new brand for an important cause in the UK.

What was it about the Movember Foundation that appealed to you?

When the foundation burst onto the scene, I had just joined the charity sector. We all watched the Movember movement grow with real envy. I loved that the idea was really grassroots and engaged and motivated men to take action and fundraise.

So many charities really struggle to engage the male audience and have actually since tried and failed. Through the moustache, men finally had a fundraising mechanism that worked for them and a brand that they could relate to. Importantly, the moustaches have become a conversation starter and a way for men to connect and generate awareness around causes that weren’t being given enough attention on a global scale. With all of that, you can’t help but be really inspired.

What are three things you’d like to achieve while at Movember?

One of the most appealing draws for joining the foundation was the need to take Movember from a one-off annual campaign-led organisation to a model where we engage our supporters and the public throughout the year. It’s actually a really huge shift forward, but one that we’re very excited about. We know we need to do that to accelerate progress and to reach our overall organisation goal. 

The second one would be to remain true to our brand DNA because as we grow, we develop new communication ideas and fundraising ideas, it’s important we hold onto our values and don’t become unrecognisable to our community. At the same time, we need to ensure that we move with the times so we don’t lose relevance as we look to engage new generations and grow. 

I also want Movember to have a positive impact on men’s health and to be recognised not just as an organisation that is known for our annual campaign and growing a moustache, but the serious side of the work that we do. That includes promoting a greater understanding of our core cause areas and supporting men in taking positive action to improve their health.

What does your day look like as a country director of Movember?

It is a very diverse role, it varies from one day to the next. During November, we have what we call Brekky club at the start of the day where we bring the entire office together to share what’s happening in the community and hear some great stories, as well as what’s happening internally and what the staff are focused on. Then I will spend a lot of time in various meetings with different parts of the organisation, looking at how we are tracking from a revenue perspective, what’s happening with our community engagement level from our supporters and our marketing team, and getting a sense of what kind of media coverage we’re generating, where would we perhaps need to work harder and where we’re performing really well. I also spend time working really closely with the tech team to make sure that the website is performing as best as it can so all of our supporters have the best possible experience across every channel.

November is the biggest month of Movember’s year, how do you manage the stress?

Well-being is really important to me personally and organisationally. It’s really important to check-in with each other on a daily basis, making sure that everybody’s feeling okay and if they need to take a break, that they are taking a break and taking some time out. 

On the whole, the energy this time of year is just so high, the momentum is there. This is when our community comes to life, it’s actually a really motivating time because we’re hearing from our community on an hourly basis, and that really does lift spirits and drive everybody.

How would you say the experience of directing an organisation such as the foundation has changed your outlook on the world and the way you do your job?  

I’ll never underestimate how generous people are, not just in monetary terms, but for their time and their willingness to open up and share their losses. It’s really moving and hugely inspiring. You only have to look at organisations like Movember and see the level of engagement momentum that people are willing to generate around a cause that they’re very passionate about.

It’s also made me a lot more mindful of my own personal health and wellbeing than I ever was before I joined the charity sector. Looking after your health, looking after your mental wellbeing really makes all the difference. It means I’m more energised and more motivated than ever.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

I like to spend a lot of time outdoors and connect with friends. It’s been really challenging to move to a whole new country, build those new connections, but it’s been really interesting and I’ve definitely learned a lot about myself. I also really like to exercise and I’m a big music lover so I really enjoy going out and seeing live music.

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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